Man pleads guilty in scamming $5M from government

By The Associated Press | Posted - Feb. 27, 2017 at 3:48 p.m.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — One of the two men accused of bilking a South Carolina project turning warheads into nuclear reactor fuel is pleading guilty.

Phillip Thompson of Augusta, Georgia, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court and will be sentenced later. The 67-year-old billed but never delivered goods for the Savannah River Site's mixed-oxide fuel facility.

Prosecutors say Thompson admitted the scheme took more than $5 million over five years. Thompson ran a construction labor business working with the company building the facility along the South Carolina-Georgia border.

Prosecutors say Aaron Vennefron worked for an Ohio hardware store and allegedly created fake invoices he submitted to Thompson's company. Vennefron's case is pending.

The plant is part of a disarmament deal with Russia to reprocess enough weapons-grade plutonium from each country for 17,000 nuclear weapons.

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